Brief expositions on the nature, significance, and utility of Symbols used in religion, philosophy, science, and art.
Even as the symbolic number of a thing is the register of its power, so the true nature of a thing is the key to its real character. For a truly representative name is one that gives definite expression to the character of the object to which it is applied.
Nothing exists without a name.
That which is nameless is non-existent, without being, and unmanifest.
The name of a thing is its word. In so far as the name is true it also contains the reason and cause of its existence. Everything, in order to be what it is, expresses in some manner its word by symbolical sound form, colour, motion, or other means.
Every existing thing gives expression to its name, or names, by one or more of the ten Aristotelian Categories. Thus, according to the appropriateness of names, so they signify the nature of the substance, quality, quantity, relation, place, time, condition, situation, activity, or passivity of things.
These Categories, therefore, constitute a classification of the names, or predicates, of all that is in manifestation, and, as such, provide a basis for the application of Word Symbolism. But owing to the inadequacy of finite terms, few words or names fully represent all the predicates that can be applied or even the simplest of material objects. For this reason more than one name can truly be applied to the majority of individual objects. This explains the differences of opinion which arise as soon as a particular definition is assigned to any object. But all these differences, and apparent contradictions in terms, may be reconciled by true Word-Symbolism, when proper consideration is given to the categories of that to which particular appellations are applied.
Every object may be contemplated from numerous angles of observation, and according to the view-points, so its character is represented by a variety of words, names, signs, or symbols. Thus, similar objects receive different terms when described and employed in science, philosophy, religion, mysticism, and so on. In like manner, the same word may be utilized in different senses; but in its numerical aspect, the symbolism of the word includes all the senses in which it can be regarded.
(2) GOD and THE WORD.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”—(John I/1.)
The highest and most universal application of the Word is God, for He is all, before all, in all, around all, and above all, and without Him there is nothing.
The Word that was with God and was God, is the Logos, the Ex-pression of Himself.
This is the Supreme and Integral Word of which all other words are only aspects, reflections, images, anagogues, and metaphors.
God is the One Word which is every being uttered, and yet, at the same time, which ever remains unuttered. It is uttered by Himself from all Eternity and is the Reason for which all things exist; but because God is transcendentally beyond all names and above the reason of all his creatures, His Word remains unuttered throughout all duration.
The highest words are those which are real symbols of Divine Predicates, and such words possess the most universal significance; for example, Love, Wisdom, and Power, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
In the Macrocosmic Word all these Divine Predicates are made manifest
The Great Cosmos, in a figurative sense, is the Great Book in which the Thoughts of God are written in deific words, glyphs, or symbols, by a Divine Pen, so that “all who desire to read, may read.”
The world is not the Divine Word, but the expression of the Word. Similarly, man the little Cosmos, is not the Word, but rather an image or incarnation of it.
(3) THE THREE DIVINE WORDS.
The Word or Logos by which God manifests Himself is a tri-unity, a triple Logos; it is three-words-in-one.
The First Word is the First Person of the Divine Triad. It is Causative and Subjectively Intelligible. It is God as the First Conceivable Cause, and the First Knowable and Divinely Intelligible Predicate.
The Second Word is the Second Person of the Divine Triad. It is Archetypal and Idealogical. It is God as the Supreme Perfection and Ideal.
The Third Word is the Third Divine Principle. It is Creative and Spiritually Intellectual. It is God as the Artificer and Sanctifier of the manifested universe.
Theses three Words have manifold names according to the time and place and circumstance in which they are used. For instance, in religion they are the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or the All-Father, the World-Mother, and the Great Architect. Philosophically, they may be called Causal Being or Essence, Archetypal Life, and Creative Intellect or Mind; while, in an abstract sense, they are described by such principles as the Static, Dynamic, and Ideal.
(4) WORDS AND IDEAS.
Ideas, in the best philosophical sense, are Ideal Types, Subjective Formative Principles and Spiritual Paradigms, from which all actual, objective, and corporeal existences spring.
They are Spiritual Words which express Divine Thoughts, and they have a real subsistence whether or not man is conscious of them.
Ideas are Logoi inasmuch as they are aspects of deific words or archetypes, and every word is a micrologos of the macrologos, that is to say, it is a sign or symbol of an idea, while every real Idea is an aspect of the One Idea which is the Logos.
Every objective form is a symbolical idea represented by a figure, a letter, a word, or a combination of words. The endeavour to give expression to the relationships of these ideas produces language, which is the mode of presenting and recording thoughts. The grammatical parts of speech of language have a correspondence in the categories or classifications of all objects.
Behind the word is the thought, behind the thought is the idea, behind the idea is the thinker. Thus words are vehicles of thoughts and ideas.
Since the fundamental processes of reasoning and the operations of thought of the human mind are in accordance with universal and unvarying principles, the mind is able to apprehend, in some measure, the thoughts and ideas which are behind the symbolism of words. In this sense there is an interior and analogical abstract language which is the parent of the exterior and literal concrete language. The interior language remains identical and stable in its essence, unaffected by the changes which progress and development produce upon the outward language. Hence, real Symbols and Words retain their inherent significance, even although ages may elapse since they were originally formulated.
This inner language is the universal language which belongs to the immortal Souol. It has countless external forms, and these constitute the languages of the various races of mankind.
(5) UTTERED WORDS.
Since the human Soul contains innate ideas which are anterior to outward experience, man has always possessed the power to utter sounds or words. In the primitive stages these may be crude and imperfect, but as man progresses, so simultaneously he evolves his language or means of expression and communication, enlarging and amplifying it to meet his changing needs. But there is a relative universality in all phases of languages, although the characters, signs, and sounds may differ widely, yet the grammatical fundamentals are closely allied.
Every human word or utterance is an objective expression of that interior, subjective language of the Soul. For this reason there are unlimited potential modes or phases of expression.
Man, since he is a miniature cosmos of the great cosmos which is a manifestation of the Logos, knows the world by knowing himself, and knows the Logos by knowing the world. Thus, there are three primary phases of Word-Symbolism: (1) that which pertains to the Divine Word or Logos; (2) that which pertains to the macrocosmic word; and (3) that which pertains to the microcosmic word.
By the first, man communes with Deity and gives expression to his aspirations; by the second, he understands more and more the nature of the world by learning the significance of the names or words of all that it contains; and by the third, he enters into intelligent relationships with his fellow beings.
Every word formulated by man possesses an original root meaning or symbolism, and the more this is realized the less is the tendency to employ words in wrong senses. If it were possible for all men to agree upon the basic significance of the most important terms used in connection with religion, philosophy, science, education and other spheres of activity, then differences of opinion and contradictory views and teachings would gradually disappear.
All general knowledge is to a large extent dependent upon familiarity with the meanings and uses of words. Conceptions cannot be formulated definitely and conveyed from one mind to another without the media of words; while the clarity and depth of thoughts is measured by the degree to which the language employed is characterized by the elements of real Word Symbolism.
The language of a person reveals partly his character, and the language of different races express in a striking manner some of their special characteristics and peculiarities.
The study of Word Symbolism is of vital importance to all who aspire to teach; for words—spoken or written—are carriers of thoughts and symbols of feeling. They are at once vehicles of ideas and transmitters of inspiration, according to the gnostic and vital power with which they are endowed.
Uttered words, which are not the result of thought and feeling are often merely meaningless and empty sounds or parrot-like repetitional utterances. But some words are fully charged with life and power and intelligence; they become ensouled, as it were; for the Soul has worked upon them, shaping and refining them until they are wrought to its purposes, becoming pregnant and translucent media of living Ideas.
Thus, there are words of power, words of wisdom, and words of love; sacramental words, immortal words, and ideal words; words that soothe and heal, words that inspire and give new life.
Such words are seeds of divinity, which, when quickened within the Soul, become living realities; they are then the ideal standards and criteria of Truth, the luminous testimonies of the Word of God, for as the Chaldean Oracles declare: “The Mind of the Father hath sown within the Soul, Symbols of things ineffable throughout the Great Cosmos.”